Archive for April, 2022


Ending April and the A to Z Challenge, Welcome May

30 April, 2022

April Showers, May FlowersTonight signals the change from Spring to Summer, Beltaine in the old Celtic calendar.  In the Romans calendar May (Maius in Latin) and was named after the Greek goddess Maia, perhaps, who is associated with Spring.  So, what theme would you like to see for May?  Spring and nature?  The fae and faerie?  Something else?  Let me know and I will do my best.

As should surprise no one at all, April’s writings were primarily for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, which I am pleased to say I completed, again.  So, the posts for April, 2022, were:

Read the rest of this entry ?


Zodiac Leopard (A to Z, Z)

30 April, 2022

The birds flew out in clouds from the top of the tree as the great cat leapt from branch to branch.  The spots on its pelt flashed with stellar light as it moved in and out of the shadows.  When it saw me, it paused, its eyes glowing silver as if it was judging me.  Apparently, it found me . . . not a threat and pounded on its way.

Watching the stars (and you)The zodiac leopards were once the beloved pets of the goddess of astronomy, before she was slain, she freed them and passed on an inkling of her divine power to them in the hopes it would keep them safe . . . and so it has.

The patterns of the zodiac leopards’s spots matches those of various astrological signs, between three and six are on each leopard.  The patterns are empowered by magic allowing the leopard to call upon the aspects of the star signs so depicted.  They do this on an instictual level calling on the powers as needed to protect themselves and the other leopards as needed.  When the magic of the star sign is drawn upon, they glow with a stellar luminescence.

The zodiac leopards average around one hundred and thirty pounds (60kg) though they occasionally grow larger, to around two hundred pounds (91kg), and it is rumored that there is one zodiac leopard who is much larger who has been alive since before the Gods War and who was specifically tasked by the goddess with protecting the other leopards.  Sighting of the great creature are rare even amongst those who venture in the lands were the zodiac leopards roam and its existence has yet to be confirmed.

The reason that the zodiac leopards might need a protector is that their belts are highly prized, they are valuable foci for astrologically aspected magic and some people have become obsessed with seeking out and acquiring a zodiac leopard pelt that matches their zodiac sign.  Unfortunately for such hunters, the leopards have an innate sense of when they are being hunted and cooperate to actively hunt their hunters.

Those who have interacted with the zodiac leopards have found them to be quite intelligent for animals, a fact their hunters often lament,

Notes:  Z is another, and thankfully final, tricky letter.  Thank you for joining me on a romp though the unusual animals of the Sea of Stars.

Image found on the Graphic Fairy site and is in the Public Domain.


Yodelling Goats of the Baltaic Mountains (A to Z, Y)

29 April, 2022

The valley echoed with something resembling song, it would fade in and out, sometimes almost seeming like words, other times drifting into melodic noise.  It was not until we had made our way deeper into the valley that we found the source of the yodelling, it was goats, many, many goats.

Would you follow?It is thought that the yodelling goats were around in the Gods Era, there are some reference to them in ancient tomes and documents where they were occasionally captured and brought to various courts or displayed in traveling shows.  Though the location of their home valley was lost in the aftermath of the Sundering and not rediscovered for several centuries as it is on the edges of the Sea of Stars.

Having been rediscovered, they have once again become a object of wonder sought out for menagerie and traveling shows.  Fortunately for the goats, if not for those seeking them, the Baltaic Mountains are distant and inaccessable from most points in the Sea of Stars.   The Baltaic Mountains are rocky and jagged with with lush valleys.  There are ruins of small settlements in the valleys, the fate of the inhabitants who once lived there is unknown.

The yodelling goats are exceptionally good at climbing and moving from rock to rock, capably of jumping six feet (1.8m) up and twelve feet (3.5m) across with ease.  They are willing to use their horns to defend themselves and their mates and they are exceptionally good about using the terrain again those pursuing them, luring pursuing people or predators onto loose rock or knocking them off ledges with a sudden charge.

The yodelling goats, like most goats, can be used for meat, their fur can be made into yarn, their hides can be tanned and the nanny goats can be milked.  There is a rumor that is gaining currency that drinking the milk of the yodelling goats improves the voice of the drinker making it much in demand among singers, espeically opera singers, and has lead to a market in “mock” yodelling goat milk as the real stuff is expensive and hard to come by.

The yodelling goats are stock with solid limbs ending in broad hooves.  The fur of the yodelling goat is usually cream white to mid-brown with occasional stipes of black or grey with older goats fur turning silver.  Both sexes of goats have horns, but the nanny goats horns only grow to three to four inches (8-11cm) in length while the horns of the male goats curve and can be over forty inches (102cm) in length.  They can get to be quite sizable with the largest weighing up to one hundred and eighty pounds (82kg) and being seventy inches (178cm) long.

Their yodelling can be heard for a considerable distance and it is thought to contain considerable information to other goats.

Notes:  Y is also tricky but how could I resist yodelling?  Also, had sheep at the beginning, only fair to have goats at the end.

Photo edited from Sindh ibex in Kirthar National Park, by Nomi887 used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.


Xenodochial Hound (A to Z, X)

28 April, 2022

The hounds wrapped around the tired and wet travelers welcoming them into the warm house.  Their friendly barks and nudges directed the guests to a place by the fire whereupon they curled up at their feet and leaned in.

A friendly friendThe xenodochial hounds may have existed before the Sundering, records are unclear, but if so, their number were small.   After about half a millenia, they have started to spread throughout the Sea of Stars, the Visse seem especially found of them and they have become popular among many people.

The xenodochial hounds tend to range in height at the shoulder from twenty-four to twenty-nine inches (61–74cm) and usually weigh in at forty-four to sixty pounds (20–27kg), though some end up rather plump under the tender ministrations of the Visse.  Their long fur coat can be just about any natural color and a few of them have veered into what would usually be thought of as unnatural colors, those owned by draconics houses can be quite striking such as the sky blue hounds of House Hazolai.

The xenodochial hounds are naturally friendly and gregarious, they will be friendly with any being that is willing to be friendly back or at least tolerate them.  They are quite clever and perceptive of people’s moods and able to act to try to improve and help people, comforting and cheering up people to the best of their ability.  If their friends are attacked they will fight to defend them, just because they are friendly, it does not mean that they are not true and loyal companions.

Notes: X is always tough.  Xenodochy is defined as reception of strangers or hospitality, a fun and unusual world for an unusual animal.

By photo of Afgan Hound found on WIkiMedia Commons by I, Lilly M, used under CC BY-SA 3.0.


Whispering Bees (A to Z, W)

27 April, 2022

The air was filled with bees moving to and fro, visiting flowers and performing their tasks.  But listening closely, there was more than a buzz in the air, there were words formed by the harmony of the bees’ wings.  “The weather will change soon, we must hurry,” was all he could make out before he was dragged away by his companion.  “Best not to listen in on the language of the bees, sometimes, they wish to keep their secrets.”

Buzz buzzThe whispering bees seem to spontaneously manifest among certain hives for reasons as yet unknown, though once awakened, only exterminating the entire hive will stop the whispering.  Once a hive has awakened into whispering bees, the new bees are slightly larger but much more capably, stronger, faster, and more efficient in their tasks.  For whatever reason, a whispering hive communicates, whisper-wise, in whatever is the dominant local language which they also understand,

Listening to the whispers of the bees reveals much about their tasks and what problems are interfering with such.  This whispered communication allows the hive to react rapidly to changing circumstances and threats.

One hive is relatively intelligent but when there are multiple hives of whispering bees in an area, they integrate into a network, with three or more hives being as small as an average person.  Adding more hives does not really make them smarter but does give them more information to work with.  Additionally, the more hives, the more esoteric the discussions become.  On occasion, they are sought out by philosophers and others seeking information.

People can come to agreements with whispering bees and there are various specialists who work with the whispering bees and retrieve their honey and wax in exchange for what the bees need which is often very mundane but rarely very esoteric indeed.

Notes: I thought I needed some more insects for this project.  And, I suspect, partly inspired by Gavotte, an intelligent swarm of bees from the delightful webcomic Skin Horse.

ImagePhoto by Jon Sullivan on Pixnio used under Creative Commons 0 license.


Tuesday Magic Item – Bone Flute of Spirit Stilling

26 April, 2022

Music to sooth the spiritsGollaon listened to the distent music of a flute.  “Rather haunting, no?” he said to Voddick.

“Yes, though I think it is being used to reveal a haunting,” Voddick replied quietly.

“Ghost hunters?” Gollaon asked looking to Voddick.

“Yes, did you not see them arrive?”

“I must have been otherwise occupied.”

Bone Flute of Spirit Stilling

These flutes are made from carved bone, the bone often comes from a person, and they are enchanted, often blessed as well, to play notes that reach beyond this word into the next.  The music of the flute affects those beings who are in the liminal state between life and death, calming and soothing them. Read the rest of this entry ?


Vapor Mouse (A to Z, V)

26 April, 2022

Their feet were wrapped in rags to muffle their footsteps but for all that they moved with exaggerated care to avoid making even the slightest sound.  Their prey had not noticed them, they each readied a small weighted dart in their primary hand, and three more in their off-hand.  They looked to one another nodded and began throwing darts as quickly as they could.  The first struck and the second and third were already in flight.  The first targets died but not soundlessly, only two more mice were impaled before the rest turned to mist and melted away.  “Could have been better,” said the first hunter as he was retriving his darts and dropping the bodies into a bag.  “Or worse, four is not bad.  And we still have the far end to check.”

They can eat a lotThe vapor mice are a plague wherever their appear and many techniques have been developed to try and eliminate them but they remain a potential threat.  They are just mice, you might say, what harm could they do, but they are mot just mice, they are mice that can turn to vapor and then reform.  Only airtight seals can keep them out and they eat voraciously, thankfully, they only reproduce as quickly as other mice, which is quite quickly enough.

While the origin of the vapor mice is unknown, they do not seem to predate the Sundering, their first recorded appearance is almost three centuries after that event when they overran the graineries of Watt and nearly caused a famine in that region.

Beyond giving them the ability to get in almost anywhere, their ability to turn to vapor is an excellent defense and it is their initial reaction when startled is to turn into vapor.  This protect them from most predators, though cats and owls occasionally get the jump on them, and from most mechanical traps.  Poison is the most effective way to kill them but must be applied subtly or the mice will avoid it.  Magic is another option but still requires catching the mice unaware.

The vapor mouse coloration is usually a cloudy brown or grey.

Notes: Pests deserve their place too, these mice are a much greater threat than the jumping snails, capable of wiping out food stores before they are noticed.

Image field mouse by Jean Beaufort found on and is in the Public Domain.


Undertaker Elephant (A to Z, U)

25 April, 2022

The procession was slow but dignified, the mighty pachyderms led the way, fragrent held aloft torches in their trunks.  Followed by a single ancient elephant pulling the hearst behind which trailed the mourners.  Arriving at the mausoleum, the elephants gently unloaded the coffin and retreated back, adding their mournful trumpting to the sad music being played.

Dressed for successThe undertaker elephants live in and around the mortuary city of Neth-Akr, once a stronghold of the twin gods of burials and embalming, but whose priesthood was exterminated quite throughly after the Sundering.  The elephants used in the ritual and funeral prosessions took over as many of the tasks that they could from the now vanished priesthood, the craftspeople of the town stepped up to take over the other tasks, together, they brough the city of the dead, back to life.  Their new draconic ruler did not mind as long as there was not even a whiff of religion, anything that brought money to the city, and by definition, then to the dragon’s coffers, was welcome.

The undertaker elephants are quite as intelligent as humans though their ability to communicate with non-elephants is rather limited, though they have a caste that excells in writing with large brushes.  They uses their trunks, tusks and massive strength to build, carry, dig and otherwise provide all of the major physical labor for Neth-Akr.  Some help with farming and logging in the hills and fields around Neth-Akr, others with quarrying and mining, without the elephants, Neth-Akr would be a much poorer place.  The undertaker elephants have evolved a society with distinct castes by profession, with the urban castes especially those who assist with funerals generally having higher status in Neth-Akr society.

The undertaker elephants average about nine feet (2.75m) at the shoulder for those that live in the city, and nine and a half feet (2.9m) for those outside with the female elephants being slightly smaller.  Their tusks are strong and often have tools attached.  While they allow the tusks of their dead to be carved into ivory items, they are very choose about who does so and to whom the final product is given to.  Such carved ivory is almost never sold and a gift of such is a sign of high regard.

The urban elephants are a darker slate-grey, while those who work outside of Neth-Akr, tend to a milder grey, both have green to blue eyes.

Notes: Needed to have some more large animals to go with the terrapins and snakes and elephants are pretty awesome creatures in any case, they deserve to be showcased more in games.

Image elephant by Ian L found on and is in the Public Domain.


Titanic Terrapin (A to Z, T)

23 April, 2022

There was a thudding and the ground trembled as the massive terrapin plodded forward, entire huts fixed to the shells.  They were directed along the path by younger villagers riding on the necks of the vast creatures.  Neither villagers or terrapins seemed concerned by my presence,

Large but slowThese turtles originate in the Marsh of the Thankfully Departed, which was know for large turtles even before the Sundering, several centuries afterwards, the titanic terrapin began emerging.  The local villagers quickly saw the advantage of a mobile lifestyle even at the slow pace of the terrapins and developed a symbotic relationship with the massive creatures.

While the terrapin are slow, they are also very tough and quite strong, and very few of the predators in the marsh are willing to confront them.  The terrapin villagers travel through the marsh on turtle back, their small huts secured with shaped wood and vines to the shell.  The terrapin villagers survive by harvesting plants and gathering fish from traps, making things from the wood of the trees and weaving items from reads and vines, some of these things they trade for items that cannot make.  The few creatures that are a threat to the titanic terrapins, the terrapin villagers will gather to drive off or kill, ironically, such creatures are usually much smaller than the titanic terrapins.

The titanic terrapins can haul a great deal of weight, though not at high speeds, and the terrapin villagers are extremely protective of them and have worked our ways to help their sizable mounts and maintain a pleasant lifestyle.  They have made cunning fireboxes that rest above the shell of the titanic terrapin warming both hut and turtle while not risking scorching the creature’s shell.

It is rumored that deep into the marsh there are even more titanic terrapins, ones capable of holding multiple huts or even a small village on their shells.  The terrapin villagers do not deny such rumors but no one else has actually seen a terrapin that titanic.

Notes:The idea of creatures with habitations on their backs is just so fun that I could not resist including one among the unusual animals.

Image of the Burmese eyed turtle, c 1878, found on WikiMedia Commons and is in the Public Domain,


Sunblessed Spaniel (A to Z, S)

22 April, 2022

The dog was beautiful, its pelt shimmering in the sunlight, it seemed alert and ready to act if needed.  There was just something about it that seemed noble and somehow sparkling.

Blessed by the SunSunblessed spaniels are descendants of the dogs that the Sun is allowed to keep as pets, he has been allowed to give the dogs as gifts to his favorites.  They usually breed true but the Church of the Sun does its best to keep the ownership of sunblessed spaniels until within its membership and most loyal supporters.

Their coats range from a pure white to a golden brown and their eyes are gold to amber.  They are usually about two feet at the withers (61 cm) and weigh in at about fifty-five to sixty-five pounds (25–29 kg).

The sunblessed spaniel’s divine gifts enhance the natural dogness of the spaniel, they are more loyal, more brave and more alert than the average dog.  They are quite intelliegent and easy to train and work very closely with the guards of many Sun Temples, some have even been taken to war but they do not seem to care for that task much.  Their bite seems especially damaging to the unliving and their blessed nature shields them from necrourgic energies to a limited extent making them highly prized as helpers by those tasked with hunting spirits and the unquiet dead who the sunblessed spaniels hate as much as their patron.

Many dragons, possibly correctly, consider them spies and agents of the Sun and will not allow sunblessed spaniels in their courts or homes.

Notes: Having done a cat, needed to have a dog as well.

Image edited from An 1859 drawing of a Water Spaniel, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

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